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A black-and-white headshot of a woman with chin-length light, wavy hair parted in the center. She wears a sleeveless, dark-colored top. Behind her are three graphic circles: one blue, one light green and one white.

Kealohaku’ualohaku’upoki’i (Poki’i) Balaz

Columbia University Scholars 2022-2023

Role

Interim Executive Director, Lunalilo Home

Location

UNITED STATES

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Biography

Kealohaku’ualohaku’upoki’i Balaz is a leader in senior and community health with an emphasis on memory care and advocacy for underserved populations. A Native Hawaiian and geriatric nurse practitioner, Poki’i develops cultural approaches to caregiving to improve health outcomes for aging individuals. Poki’i served as Interim Executive Director of Lunalilo Home, a residential care home that serves Hawaiʻi’s elders and aging adults. Since its establishment over 130 years ago by Hawaiʻi’s King William Charles Lunalilo, Lunalilo Home has served thousands of kupuna and offers residential care, day programs, private transportation and meal services for Native Hawaiian elders. In her role at Lunalilo Home, Poki’i centered Native Hawaiian culture and practices to honor the kupuna her organization serves and to uphold the vision of King Lunalilo. Poki’i also leverages her clinical and personal background and expertise in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and dementia to address senior care issues in public policy.

Poki’i is a member of the Native Hawaiian Health Advisory Board and the Policy Advisory Board for Elderly Affairs where she promotes legislation to protect the interests of the aging population of Hawai’i. She is a recipient of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Aloha Chapter Advocate of the Year Award and the Pacific Business News 40 Under 40 award. Poki’i is a double board-certified family nurse practitioner with a doctor of nursing practice, a master’s degree in business education, and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Hawaiʻi. She also holds a master’s of science degree in nursing education from the University of Oklahoma.